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Concern over 700pc surge in drivers caught on drugs behind wheel

Ralph Riegel — 12 February 2018

Gardai have mounted almost 52,400 roadside checks

There has been a massive 700pc increase in the number of motorists testing positive for drug-driving since roadside sampling was introduced in April 2017.

The revelation came as road safety campaigners demanded greater resources for garda traffic corps amid fears drug-driving is set to prove as deadly an issue as drink-driving.

PARC road safety founder Susan Gray warned that the statistics indicated motorists driving under the influence of drugs was a problem significantly greater than initially feared by the authorities.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed to Tommy Broughan TD that a total of 90 motorists had tested positive for drug-driving in routine roadside checks since the new regulations came into force.

The new provision of the Road Traffic Act (2016) allows gardai to conduct preliminary drug detection testing at roadside checkpoints.

The test is conducted using the Drager 5000 analysis device.

This can give gardai a preliminary indicator of the presence in a motorist’s saliva of traces of cannabis and cocaine, opiates such as heroin and even the benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium.

Prosecution follows if the motorist fails a subsequent impairment test.

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